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Bone Pointing

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The ceremony of bone pointing is a common ritual for bringing sickness among the [Australian] Arunta.

 

The pointing bone or pointing stick is usually about nine inches in length, pointed at one end, and tipped with a lump of resin at the other.

 

The stick is endowed with magical power by being 'sung over,' that is, curses are muttered over it, such as 'may your heart be rent asunder' and 'may your head and throat be split open.'

 

On the evening of the day on which the bone has been 'sung' the wizard creeps stealthily in the shadows until he can see the victim's face clearly by the firelight.

 

He then points the bone in the victim's direction and utters in a low tone the curses with which the stick was endowed earlier in the day. The victim is supposed to sicken and die within a month at the most.

 

Two men may cooperate in the pointing operation. Spears may also be endowed with magic by 'singing' over them.

 

A person who knows that he has been injured, even slightly, with a spear thus prepared will be likely to waste away through fear unless counter magic can be brought to his aid.

 

--from "Primitive Theories of Disease" by Spencer L. Rogers in Ciba Symposia (April 1942)

 

 

In 2004 Native Australians who disagreed with his policies ritually cursed Australian Prime Minister, John Howard by pointing a bone at him. He is still alive as of 2017.

 

 

bonepointing.jpg

 

 

two Australian Arunta men demonstrating how to point the bone at someone

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The style of coiffure and beards, as displayed in the above photo, are much favoured by the millennial foofs in my part of the world.

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